Jan 24, 2020

White House meetings provide last round of wrangling ahead of Trump's water rule

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The EPA finalized rules on Thursday that remove Clean Water Act protections for many seasonal streams and wetlands — and one gauge of how consequential the changes are for major industries like agriculture and oil producers, who applauded the move, and green groups is to look at the final stages of the regulation's drafting.

Why it matters: Meetings with the White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) give regulated industries, environmentalists and others a final chance to try and influence regulations.

How it works: OIRA keeps a tally of who met with their people and EPA staff after EPA sent them the final rule for review.

  • The records list 32 meetings with outside parties dating back to 2018, which encompasses both the recision of Obama-era protections and the new regulation that greatly scales back oversight.

Parties who made their pitch in recent weeks include:

  • The American Petroleum Institute
  • The American Forest and Paper Association
  • The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
  • Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
  • The Waters Advocacy Coalition, an industry umbrella group of entities like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Home Builders.
  • The Natural Resources Defense Council

Go deeper: Trump administration set to remove protections for waterways

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Report: Former top EPA official expected to return as chief of staff

The Environmental Protection Agency logo flies at the agency's headquarters in D.C. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Mandy Gunasekara, former deputy assistant administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency's air office, is expected to become the next chief of staff, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters, via Axios' Amy Harder: Gunasekara's return signals that the agency plans to double down on a deeply conservative approach to eschew new regulations of almost any kind, as opposed to embracing more moderate policies that some businesses are calling for.

Europe nixes Facebook's plea for friendly rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook is doubling down on its big pitch to lawmakers across the globe: regulate us.

Yes, but: Key regulators aren't buying it. Hours after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with lawmakers in Europe to discuss the company's new proposals for regulation, a French commissioner overseeing the EU's data strategy rejected the plan, saying "It’s not enough. It’s too slow, it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation."

A little-noticed Medicaid proposal could have huge consequences

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Major health industry groups, governors and state Medicaid directors have all raised significant concerns with a Trump administration proposal that would change the rules and oversight of some forms of state Medicaid financing.

Why it matters: Billions of dollars are on the line for both states and providers, which they say in turn threatens the health care of some of America's most vulnerable people.

Go deeperArrowFeb 3, 2020 - Health